Panel: Opportunities and Challenges of Writing in a Second Language

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The advancement of Globalization has simultaneously diluted the need for writing in languages other then English and made us more aware of differences between diverse cultures. Hence, writing in a second/foreign language has acquired a new role. In order for individuals to compete on the international scale, they have to master a foreign language. Yet, the processes and elements of tasks involved in writing in L1 and L2 are far from identical. When writing in the L2, individual writers inevitably engage in the changing contexts between the language uses of L1 and L2 and apply their learned knowledge and principles to the writing situations they perceive as suitable or doable. Students’ perception about the role of language in Globalized world and language learning, as well as their self-perception plays an integral role in their ability to transfer knowledge when writing in a second/foreign language. This is particularly true when one teaches adult groups of students who have already formed distinct identities as academically and professionally successful L1 writers. The participants of our panel will look at students from different backgrounds with the shared interest in finding out how writing in a second/foreign language shapes writer’s identity.
To further examine and understand the nature of writing across different contexts, the panel will consider how student attitudes and perceptions play into writer development and knowledge transfer from L1 to L2. The participants will explore the opportunities and problems of writing in L2, as well as the effects that second/foreign language writing has on writers’ identities, by asking the following guiding questions:

1). How do students develop identities and self-perceptions as L1 and L2 writers? How and to what degree, are their identities as L1 and L2 writers similar or different from each other?

2). How do students develop beliefs and attitudes towards L2 writing? How do their L1 writing experiences inform their L2 writing strategies? How do rhetorical and discursive strategies of L1 writing impact students’ learning of L2 writing and should such impact be viewed as an opportunity or as a problem when teaching second/foreign language writing?

3). What type of support do students need to become better L2 writers? What are their particular pedagogical needs? How can writing instructors or practitioners best support our students in achieving their goals as second/foreign language writers, and transferring their academic writing skills from one language into another, or from one context to another?

Method: Through surveys, questionnaires, students feedback and analysis of students writing, the panel participants will look at the possibilities and problems of writing transfer from L1 to L2, as well as the effects that second language writing has on writers’ native identities, especially in the circumstances when they are already seeing the blurring frontiers between native and foreign cultural realms.

Cross-context research into second/foreign language writing is essential for a clearer and broader picture to emerge on L2 writing. To this end, the panel will bring together specialists from around the world, from different types of institutions, with different student bodies, who will present their research on teaching and learning L2 writing in diverse linguistic, cultural, institutional, and pedagogical contexts. We invite the audience to look at students from different backgrounds with the shared interest of finding out how writing in a second/foreign language shapes writers’ identities. This panel will also address the need for designing more successful approaches to supporting students’ writing skills and to teaching advanced level writing in the second/foreign language classroom by examining students’ perception of writing and, more specifically, the link between L1 and L2 writing experiences.

Literacy-based language learning (Richard Kern 2000, Claire Krasch, 1993); Wiring assessment (Carl Bereiter, 1995); Learning and writing transfer (Greeno, Smith, and Moore, 1993), Second language writing (Tony Silva and Paul Kei Matsuda, 2010).

Paper (1): Bridging the Danglish Gap: A Study of Danish Doctoral Students’ Experiences with Writing in L2 English
The paper focuses on how Danish doctoral students experience and handle the processes and expectations associated with academic writing in L2 English and how they are addressed as a theme in supervision. It will consider how the various challenges faced by these graduate students not only influence the transfer of writing skills, but also contribute to complicating their perceptions of themselves as academic writers and apprentice members of their academic communities.

Paper (2): (Im)possibilities of Transferring Writing Skills Through Languages
As foreign language (FL) instructors we constantly seek ways to improve students' proficiency in the target language. This project attempts to address the need for designing a more successful approach to teaching advanced level writing in the FL classroom to make the transfer from L1 to L2 more effective, and at the same time develop students’ awareness about the (im)possibilities of direct, seamless transfer of meaning from one language into another.

Paper (3): Struggles and strategies: Chinese students’ writing development in a US university
The increasing number of Chinese undergraduate students in First-Year Writing classes is posing challenges to writing pedagogies and draws attention to their instructional needs in and outside the classroom. Through multiple cases and writing classes, this study investigates Chinese students’ transitions across different writing courses in a U.S. university and how challenges from different, and sometimes conflicting, ways of communicating, living, and learning can account for the students’ L2-English writing development.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year19 Feb 2014
Publication statusPublished - 19 Feb 2014
EventWriting Research Across Borders 2014 conference. - The University of Paris-Ouest Nanterre la Defense, Paris, France
Duration: 19 Feb 201422 Feb 2014


ConferenceWriting Research Across Borders 2014 conference.
LocationThe University of Paris-Ouest Nanterre la Defense

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